“The Rover” (all week, Point, Star Cinema, Sundance) — 2010’s “Animal Kingdom,” a brutal Australian gangster movie that makes “Goodfellas” seem sentimental, knocked the wind out of me when I first saw it. Writer-director David Michod returns with this post-collapse Western, as outlaws dominate a lawless and impoverished Australian outback. Guy Pearce plays a desperate man who has his car stolen by bandits, and enlists one of the bandits’ young brother (a decidedly unglamorous Robert Pattinson) to help him seek vengeance.
“Nymphomaniac Part 1 and 2” (7 p.m. Saturday, Union South Marquee) — The UW-Cinemateque is hosting the Madison premiere of Lars Von Trier’s new film, which may be the most depressing film about sexual promiscuity ever filmed. Aer ths a beaten Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) tells her rescuer (Stellan Skarsgaard) the sordid and increasingly disturbing details of her sexual past, Von Trier gets to indulge both the bleak moralist and the naughty schoolboy in himself. FREE!
“Smile” (7 p.m. Friday, Union South Marquee) — From “The Candidate” to “Bad News Bear,” director Michael Ritchie in his prime had some interesting takes on the American Dream and the idea of “winning. But this may be his ultimate statement on the subject, a blistering 1975 satire of a beauty pageant and the lengths that the contestants will go to to wear the sash. FREE
“Jersey Boys” (all week, Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Sundance) — “Paint Your Wagon” notwithstanding, Clint Eastwood isn’t the most obvious choice to direct a musical. But his adaptation of the Broadway smash about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons looks surprisingly dark and thoughtful.
“The Signal” (all week, Point and Star Cinema) — In this indie sci-fi/horror film, three geeks get lured into a remote bunker in the desert by the taunts of an Internet hacker, and find themselves in a waking nightmare. Director William Eubank clearly has his eye on bigger things and bigger budgets, but this looks like an impressive debut.